“Tornado Alley at the Museum of Science & Industry’s Giant Dome Theater” by S.M. O’Connor

Tornado Alley debuted at the Museum of Science and Industry’s Giant Dome Theater on Friday, May 25, 2018.  The late Bill Paxton (1955-2017), who starred or had supporting roles in The Terminator (1984), Weird Science (1985), Aliens (1986), Tombstone (1993), True Lies (1994), Apollo 13 (1995), Twister (1996), Titanic (1997), U-571 (2000), Vertical Limit (2000), Edge of Tomorrow (2014), Big Love (2006-2011), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Training Day (2017), and director of Frailty (2001) and The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005), narrated the film.

The title of the film refers to a region with no precise definition, but which includes the Great Plains states. It roughly includes northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, South Dakota, Iowa, and southern Minnesota.  Tornado Alley follows the Discovery Channel’s Storm Chasers (2007-2012) star Sean Casey and the scientists of VORTEX2 as they encounter one of the earth’s awe-inspiring events – the creation of a tornado.  In a press release, the M.S.I. stated, “Whirling above the human drama as the storms themselves, magnificent forces of nature revealed in breathtaking detail through the giant screen.”

 The team pursue tornadoes in ‘Tornado Alley,’ a region in the center of the United States that is home to Earth’s most violent and destructive tornadoes.  As Casey’s team seeks to capture groundbreaking footage of a tornado from point-blank range, the VORTEX2 team strives to understand the origin and structure of tornadoes.  The researchers hope to use their findings to improve the ability to predict when and where tornadoes will strike, ensuring greater safety to those in harm’s way.

 

As part of the celebration around the reopening of the Giant Dome Theater, the Museum of Science and Industry debuted Amazon Adventure (2017), a new film about the eleven-year-long journey of the English naturalist Henry Walter Bates (1825-1895) up the Amazon River in the 19th Century.  Amazon Adventure debuted on Memorial Day (May 29, 2017) inside the Museum of Science and Industry’s five-story wrap-around Giant Dome Theater (formerly the Omnimax® Theater).  In 2016, over 300,000 people visited the Museum of Science and Industry’s Omnimax® Theater, which opened in the Henry Crown Space Center in 1986.[1]  In May of 2017, the Museum of Science and Industry unveiled a state-of-the-art projection system in the Omnimax® Theater, which it renamed the Giant Dome Theater to emphasize the change in projection technology.  The Museum of Science and Industry is the first institution in Chicago and the second in the world to install the new system from D3D/Christie Laser Dome, a company based in north suburban Evanston, Illinois.  It uses three different laser projectors to create a composite image.  The Dover Foundation supports the Giant Dome Theater.

Tornado Alley is screened daily at 11:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. on dates with extended hours in the Giant Dome Theater through Labor Day (Monday, September 3, 2018).  It is not included in Museum Entry (general admission) and requires an additional timed-entry ticket.  Film tickets are available in Explorer ticket packages.

Before or after seeing the film, audience members should check out the artificial forty-foot-tall tornado in the two-story physics and chemistry exhibit Science Storms in the West Court of the M.S.I.’s Central Pavilion.  The M.S.I. stated, “This vortex of swirling, illuminated vapor can be manipulated using a control panel, allowing guests to experiment with the vortex’s air flow.”  The exhibit “uses natural phenomena, including tornadoes, avalanches, fire, and more to explore basic chemistry and physics principles in a dynamic, hands-on way.”

 

Vortex_2__17_

Figure 1 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Herb Stein of the Center for Severe Weather Research (working with Vortex 2) observes a supercell from Doppler on Wheels (DOW) 6 in western Nebraska

23Figure 2 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: The teams pursue tornadoes in “Tornado Alley,” a region in the center of the United States of America that is home to Earth’s most violent and destructive tornados.

21Figure 3 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Narrated by the late Bill Paxton (1955-2017), Tornado Alley follows the Discovery Channel’s Storm Chasers (2007-2012) star Sean Casey and the scientists of VORTEX2 as they encounter one of the earth’s awe-inspiring events – the creation of a tornado.

This year, the Museum of Science and Industry is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its first opening ceremony, during Chicago’s second World’s Fair, A Century of Progress International Exposition (1933-34).  It opened in three stages between 1933 and 1940.  The building that houses the Museum of Science and Industry, is the Palace of Fine Arts.  Designed by Charles B. Atwood (1849-1896), it was built to house a temporary art museum for Chicago’s first World’s Fair, the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893), and afterwards it housed the Columbian Field Museum, which evolved into The Field Museum of Natural History, until 1920, when it moved into its new quarters, where it opened in 1921.  Consequently, this year the Museum of Science and Industry is celebrating the 125th anniversary of the building and The Field Museum of Natural History is celebrating the 125th anniversary of its foundation.

Through Labor Day (Monday, September 3, 2018), the M.S.I. is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Saturday, August 11th.  On Tuesday, September 4, 2018, the M.S.I. will revert to regular hours (9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).  On Sunday, September 23, 2018, the M.S.I. will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; on Saturday, October 6, 2018, will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; and on the weekend of Saturday, November 17, 2018 and Sunday, November 18, 2018, the M.S.I. will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  The Museum of Science and Industry will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 22, 2018) and the First Day of Christmas (Tuesday, December 25, 2018).  Extended hours (9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) will be in play again from Friday, November 23, 2018 to Sunday, November 25, 2018; Saturday, December 1, 2018 and Sunday, December 2, 2018; Saturday, December 8, 2018 and Sunday, December 9, 2018; Saturday, December 15, 2018 and Sunday, December 2016; Saturday, December 22, 2018 and Sunday, December 23, 2018; and Wednesday, December 26, 2018 through Sunday, December 30, 2018.  Check this Webpage and the Museum of Science and Industry’s social media for updates.

Often stylized as the “Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago” or the “Museum of Science + Industry” the institution is located at the northern end of Jackson Park, on the south side of 57th Street, between Lake Shore Drive to the east and Cornell Drive to the west, in the East Hyde Park neighborhood of the Hyde Park Community Area (Community Area #41) on the South Side of Chicago.  The address is 5700 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60637.  The M.S.I. is open every day of the year with two exceptions: Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.  On most days, it is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but during peak periods it is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  The Website is https://www.msichicago.org/ and the phone number is (773) 684-1414.

ENDNOTE

[1] OMNIMAX and IMAX theater technologies were developed in the 1960s by the IMAX Systems Corporation of Toronto.  Known today as the IMAX Corporation, it is both a manufacturing company and a service company.  It manufactures IMAX cameras and projectors, produces films, develops IMAX film, and provides postproduction services.  At the time the Museum of Science and Industry built the OMNIMAX Theater in the Henry Crown Space Center, films were produced for the OMNIMAX format by the IMAX Systems Corporation, a consortium of science museum theaters, and other organizations.

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